Architect & Designer Denise O’Connor
I often get asked for the one thing that would make the biggest difference to a home. I would have to say good storage. If you have adequate storage you will actually find you don’t need that much space. It really is the key to a well-functioning home. Well-designed storage will mean that even a very modest space can be perfectly optimised.
By really thinking about where to put everything and making sure that you give a purpose to the underused rooms and spaces in your home, you will be able to create more space without adding any square footage.
The most important rule to follow is to make sure you have as much designated storage as possible. The old saying ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ really is the key to success. Here are my top tips for bringing some order to your home:
Start with discarding
We have no idea how much stuff we actually own says author of The Magic of Tidying up. Marie She maintains that ‘until you’ve completed a once in a lifetime event of putting your house in order, any attempt to tidy on a daily basis is doomed to failure … You have to be able to experience a state of perfect order first to be able to maintain it’. So start by discarding.
Keep it simple
When it comes to choosing your storage system, simple and easy-to-use options are best. Ideally, it should be just as effortless to put something away as it is to locate it later.
Know what your requirements are
You need to think carefully about what your storage requirements are. For example, are the items you need to store being used every day? Things that need to be accessed frequently should be stored in a way that allows you to get to them easily.
Let what you need to store dictate the kind of storage that you select. Designated storage is far more efficient and useful than general store cupboards where everything gets thrown into and it is impossible to find anything in. We’ve customised cupboards in utility rooms to take laundry baskets, making the chore of laundry that little bit easier. One client has even persuaded her children to put their own clothes into the baskets themselves! If they know exactly what to do they are far more likely to do it.
Don’t hide everything away
You don’t have to hide everything away. Open storage units can be an attractive feature and are fantastic for displaying collections. It can work wonderfully well in a dressing room as everything will be on display and easy to see, but when it comes to open storage think about what you are storing but be realistic about how tidy you are. Open storage looks great as long as you are organised and tidy.
Invest in bespoke storage
Built-in storage will give you a lot more for your money. It is a more expensive option than an off-the-shelf solution but It can be customised to suit your exact requirements so will work far more effectively and can be designed so that it becomes an attractive feature in your space.
Make underused spaces work harder
Think about the under-used spaces in your home that could be utilised as storage space. Under the stairs is a great example and is usually just a general storage cupboard filled to capacity and difficult to access. However, there are great solutions that will allow you to subdivide the space into drawers and cupboards to totally maximise this forgotten part of the house.
When it comes to kids storage – make it accessible
For children’s toy storage make sure that it is accessible. This will mean they can get to things themselves without constantly having to call for mum and dad to help and might also mean that they will be able to put things away.
Utility room – The most important room in the house
Do not underestimate the importance of this room in a home, and I say home rather than house as it is the simple and practical things like having a space to hang washing when it’s raining or a place for the children to leave their boots and sports bags, that means you are happy in your house rather than totally addled by clutter and stuff.
Photography: Ruth Maria Murphy
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